Pope Francis had quite a star-studded lineup of opening acts prior to his Mass at Madison Square Garden.
On Friday, the pontiff concluded his first visit to New York City by headlining a packed arena of over 18,000 worshippers.
Prior to his homily, several of music’s finest took the stage for some memorable performances. Jennifer Hudson belted out “Hallelujah” meanwhile Harry Connick Jr. sang “How Great Thou Art” and Gloria Estefan – who admitted she was nervous – serenaded “Mas Alla.”
The two-hour event, called “A Journey in Faith,” was hosted by actor Martin Sheen and also featured appearances by Kelli O’Hara, James “D Train” Williams, and Broadway Inspirational Voices. Stephen Colbert made a video appearance welcoming the audience that included Leonardo DiCaprio.
A procession of 33 Bishops and five cardinals led Pope Francis into the hall.
The leader of the Catholic Church began the Mass in English, starting with a prayer, then reverted back to his native language.
“God is living in our cities,” Francis said in Spanish.
“Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is vitally a part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in a vast history of salvation, fills us with hope,” he continued before MSG erupted with roaring applause.
Papa Francesco will next be embarking to Philadelphia to give a speech on immigration and religious freedom at Independence Hall.
• Reporting by PRAXILLA TRABATTONI